The human brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. It has more neurons than there are humans on Earth and more connections between the neurons than there are stars in our galaxy. Building computational models of this network can help in elucidating how we feel and think, but the task is staggeringly complicated. As a first step, the Blue Brain Project has set out to model part of the rat brain. Their first simulation is based on published anatomy from a multitude of scientific papers, and includes tens of thousands of neurons and millions of connections. It reproduces many experimental findings, such as the spontaneous activity shown here. This is only the beginning. The team wants to expand the model by including more details about the rat nervous system and by gradually increasing the size of their simulations. Eventually they plan to model the human brain too.
Written by Bertie Gyenes
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.